Action Plan to Make Europe the new Global Powerhouse for Startups

The EU Innovation Ecosystem Leaders Group was first called upon by Commissioner Gabriel for a meeting on April 16th to give voice to the innovation ecosystems in the making of future EU Innovation Policy. 

On 16 April, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel had met the group to listen to their experiences as leaders of the innovation ecosystems in the 27 Member States. The group presented to the Commissioner their first ideas of  an ‘Action Plan to Make Europe the new Global Powerhouse for Startups’ that aims to increase the number of unicorns (privately owned companies valued at over $1 billion) tenfold in Europe over the next ten years.  

The aim of the group is to provide feedback to the European Commission on how it can further support and promote European startup ecosystems and increase employment, innovation and exports across the EU over the next decade. The initiative also represents a strengthening of relations between the startup sector and the European Commission. 

The group consists of one representative from each Member State: Constantijn van Oranje (Special Envoy at Techleap.nl), Peter Vesterbacka (FinEst Bay Area), Carlos Mateo (Asociacion Startups), Markus Raunig (AustrianStartups), Charlotte Greant (Startups.be), Dimitar Vasilev (Bulgarian Business Forums), Hajdi Cenan (Croatian AI Association), Stavriana A. Kofteros (Startup Cyprus), Markéta Přenosilová (CzechInvest), Tomas Mathiesen (Danish Startup Group), Matej Rus (Startup:Slovenia), Maarika Truu (Estonia), Eve Peeterson (Startup Estonia), Nicolas Brien (France Digitale), Christian Miele (Deutsche Startups), Panos Zamanis (Hellenic Startup Association), Csongor Biás (Startup Hungary), Martina Fitzgerald (Scale Ireland), Giorgio Ciron (InnovUp), Olga Barreto Goncalves (Latvian Startup Association StartinLV), Roberta Rudokiene (Startup Lithuania), Tomasz Snazyk (Startup Poland), Simon Schaefer (Startup Portugal), Cristian Dascalu (Romanian Tech Startups Association), Michal Kardos (Slovak Alliance for Innovation Economy), Arash Sangari (Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth), Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita (Silicon Valleta), and Elodie Trojanowski (Federation Luxemburgoise des Startups). Jan Bormans is performing the secretariat functions for the group. 

The exchange takes place against the backdrop of the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon Europe), the Innovation Transformation of Higher Education institutions, and the Commission’s recent Digital Decade Communication that calls to double the number of unicorns in Europe by 2030, to around 250. In January, the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the two pillars of EU support to entrepreneurs, signed a Memorandum of understanding to enable innovators, innovative SMEs and startups, higher education institutions and research organisations to receive quality support services to deploy and scale up innovations faster and with greater impact.